What Is a Quantitative Management Approach?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A quantitative management approach involves the use of mathematical modeling to find the best solutions to problems. This can be applied to a variety of workplace challenges, ranging from making decisions during product development to resolving employee conflicts. It is also known as operations research, and involves a more objective, structured approach to problems or solutions. Many industries can be suited to this management philosophy.

Woman posing
Woman posing

One important component of the quantitative management approach is an ability to objectively collect information about a problem and possible solutions to develop appropriate, and useful, mathematical models. This may involve input from several personnel who can present solutions, problems, and issues that may complicate the discussion. The manager can plug all of these data into a mathematical model, which can optimize the information to find the best objective fit for the situation.

This approach allows for more objective evaluation of workplace issues, which can be helpful in tense workplaces that handle high stakes projects. In addition, this approach can help companies establish baselines and goals that are easily quantifiable. Evaluations of employees and managers can integrate this information to create an objective picture of performance. With more subjective measures and approaches, it can sometimes be challenging to accurately and fairly evaluate people or situations.

Not all workplaces are suited to the quantitative management approach. Objectivity can be valuable, but may at times obscure other options that could be beneficial for a company or its managers. Some decision making may rely upon more intuitive measures that can be difficult to quantify. A decision like weighing different construction materials with consideration to their price, durability, and ease of use may be readily quantified, but an aesthetic decision about which is the most attractive may not lend itself to mathematical analysis as well. A manager may need to consider the situation carefully to determine the most appropriate way to solve the problem while meeting expectations for performance and quality.

Many information collection models can be used in a quantitative management approach to develop detailed background on problems and solutions. These can include surveys, subject to statistical analysis to highlight the key data, as well as research. Researchers may look at companies that have had similar problems and how they've approached them. It is also possible to research various solutions to collect hard data on success rates, cost of implementation, and other factors that can be quantified and pulled into the analysis.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@Fa5t3r - Well, the thing is, in a lot of cases, the happiness and well-being of the employees is going to help the company to make money anyway. And I hate to be unromantic but you can totally quantify happiness.

If you put in a gym, you then run the numbers to see if people are using it and if their use is helping their performance.

I don't think it should be used for everything. I think developing a community, where people can be heard, is important for a business as well. But, you know, I'm pretty sure you can quantify that community as well. It's not a bad thing, it's just maths.


@MrsPramm - I guess I don't like it because it always seems to revolve around money. I know to most businesses that is the bottom line, but I really wish there were more around that cared about the well being of their customers and staff first and then the profit margins later.

I don't mean that they should operate at a loss, of course, because that won't help their staff in the long run.


I read an article a while ago which went into how Google uses the quantitative management approach to their workplace and how it helps them to stay efficient and achieve what they want to achieve.

For example, they noticed that women were leaving more often than men and figured out that it was because they weren't getting enough maternity leave.

When someone ran the numbers in mathematical models, they realized they would actually end up saving money from recruitment and training if they gave staff more maternity leave and allow them to be more flexible with it. When they did that, their female staff turnover went down until it was basically at the same level as the men.

Pretty cool huh? That was something that I don't think a company would do unless they saw with the numbers that it would work, since, intuitively, it seems like it would cost them money.

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